Your Value and Hope are Not Decided By Holiday Circumstances

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

ngaw2pGCircumstances cannot choose for us how we think about ourselves. What I mean is, whatever is going on in life is not powerful enough to decide for us how to interpret our value or hope. 

That is because we are complex beings maneuvering through complicated lives. There is no all-this or all-that perception of the world that actually works. 

Wouldn’t it be easy if it did? Imagine if everything was categorized into right/wrong, healthy/unhealthy, and wise/foolish. What if all decisions were a simple matter of looking in a textbook? 

I don’t know. Sounds boring. It certainly takes the joy of freedom of thought out of the equation. One such freedom is the ability to choose how to perceive our value and hope and the value and hope of others. 

In answering a podcast host’s question today, I mentioned that the measure of our value and hope never changes. God’s love is constant, and his eternal promise is for all who believe on his Son Jesus. What flexes is our beliefs about ourselves, God, and the world around us.

Three questions

Here’s a challenge I try to do and invite you to join me.  When confronted with a sense of failure or lesser worth, or when hope begins to fades from view,  ask 3 questions:

Who is speaking this message to my brain? If it is a person, seriously, what is their problem? They are wrong. If the culprit is negative self-talk,  challenge the message. 

What is the meat of the message?  Is the worthless feeling coming from loss? Is the lack of hope coming from fear?  Knowing and focusing on the root issue helps us find ways of dealing with it. 

Is this who I want to be?  I was asked once if I wanted to be valued for being depressed or for finding something worthwhile to offer the world. Awareness of the choices we have – how to see ourselves, others, and God; who we want to be, and what steps we will take toward becoming that person – gives us power. Change is a possibility. Will we go for it? 

What is happening to us or around us cannot determine our value or hope. Value is inherent. Hope is always present.  Believe it. 

p3sR2m0Today’s Helpful Word

Lamentations 3:21-23

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

*forest path pic by MIMICA; autumn sky by TACLUDA: both  on rgbstock.com

For more on today’s topic, see  How to Gain and Maintain a Mindset of Hope 

“My house,” she said. “It’s all I got.”

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

pXewBwOA woman who stayed with her home during one of the devastating wildfires in California, surprised her friends and neighbors by her survival. When asked why she stayed behind instead of evacuating, she replied, “My house. It’s all I got.”

Occasionally, any of us may feel as if what we value is slipping away. Efforts to prevent loss demand our attention. In a similar way, when we suffer a severe episode of any  mental health challenge such as major depression, anxiety, or panic attacks, among others, we may fall in to a place of desperation.

Rationally,  it doesn’t make sense to give up one’s life for a house.  Still, the woman who risked her life is not alone. A year ago, during a massive hurricane, one interviewed citizen was choosing to stay behind to take care of someone else’s possessions! The end of that story is unknown. 

I do not think either of these people were calm and collected. Not knowing them, it seems they did what anyone would do who valued something or someone above themselves. Whether desperation lasts one minute or months, temporarily it is difficult to make well-reasoned choices based on what is true. Instead, our minds tell us our perceptions of danger, loss, or hopelessness are the sum of reality.

In those moments, what we value most will rise to the surface. For me, major depression  (later) exposed the fact that I treasured the evasive love of my husband more than life itself. This had to change, and it was hard work. Transferring my hope to a permanent foundation has changed everything in my life. 

God used several tools to open my heart to his unfailing love. Some of it was therapy, and a renewing of my thought processes. Some of it was scripture (I view the Holy Bible as his unerring Word to us). Some of it was prayer. The end result is a whole person, a woman who values and relies on his love. 

I no longer need a person or material possessions to define my worth. Having never been in a natural disaster, I believe now it would be a no-brainer to leave everything behind. Reality is, God loves me. He sent his Son Jesus to die and resurrect so I could be with him forever. My hope lies there – in the unchanging, unending love of God the Father.

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Today’s Helpful Word

Matthew 6:19-21  

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

*house fire pic by XYMONAU ; streams of light by MICROMOTH: both  on rgbstock.com

 

Too Angry to Hurt?

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

rear view of a boy sitting on grassland
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Anger is a protective emotion. A slow burn or a flash of rage can both serve the same purpose – to cover hurt. I’m not putting anger in a box and saying this is all it is. Nevertheless, anger as a type of self- protection occurs all the time.

We misplace anger too. You’ve witnessed this. Someone goes off on a meaningless slight, leaving everyone wondering what made him or her snap. By trying to avoid the pain or discomfort of respectful confrontation, perhaps we allow anger to build until it has to release itself.

What are those hurts angry people try to avoid? That is anyone’s guess. The person who is angry may not know.  I remember being so angry I thought it would kill me. It was a direct result of a painful marriage and a victim mindset. Realizing this was an impossible load to carry, I ran to God in prayer and said, “Please change me. This anger has to let up.”

Within a few days, it did let up. Issues I had ignored or blamed others for  were drawn to my attention. I changed, and that protected me better than any anger ever could.

Fear can set off anger too. Rather than face our fears, we yell or stew or react violently at them. Road rage may sometimes be one of these types of anger. Fearing loss of control over one’s life, a driver tries to own the road.  We see this fear in our politics, religions, and fights for rights. Dialogue seems too hard, and open-minded thinking too great a challenge. Most, or at least the loudest voices, would rather argue.

I’ve realized again today that fear is making me angry.  I sat down with my Bible and asked God to reason with me (that is, to help me see his perspective).  He showed me the root cause of my anger and self-pity.  It is because of not facing again  my greatest fear- fear of never being loved or accepted. He showed me how my fear has caused me to shut out friendships (I’ll leave them before they can leave me), and has held me in defeat (how dare I try, I’ll make a fool of myself).

Rising from that Bible study and prayer time, I immediately faced three situations that had me afraid and angry.  This blog post is the fourth.  For reasons I no longer understand, writing on this topic scared me. So here it is.

My hope and prayer is that this reaches you and helps you overcome some of your anger, too.

beautiful blonde downstairs facial expression
Photo by Nikolay Draganov on Pexels.com

Today’s Helpful Word

James 4:4, 6-7a

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? …  But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God.

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embrace Your Today Family

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

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Charlie Brown and the Peanuts Gang are some of my favorite people. This Thanksgiving, my table is adorned with all of them. A picture of the infamous Charlie Brown Thanksgiving meal hangs on the wall.  My intention is to serve little snack cups with samples of Snoopy’s cuisine: popcorn, pretzels, jelly beans, and toast.

Though members of the Peanuts gang had relatives and homes, they chose to spend holiday time together. To the main characters,  Lucy, Linus, Sally, Marcie, Peppermint Patty, Pigpen, Franklin, Violet, Charlie, Snoopy, and Woodstock, this group was family.

Some of us have little to no family with whom to spend Thanksgiving or any holiday. Perhaps family memories and members have faded to the past. Strife or tragedy may have prevented a sense of family at all. Most likely, the culprit of broken ties is a mix of distance and time.

We have, or can build, a Today family.  Temporary families dot my past. My family of origin briefly existed. Visits with extended family were short and far-between. My friends became my family followed by my (now ex) husband and children.

Everywhere I’ve lived or built a social circle, “family” has included persons both related and unrelated to me. One option is to look back and bemoan the loss of many of these relationships. Embracing a Today family sounds like a happier choice.

This year, I have invited relatives not seen in about 10 years. Jon and Tim, my sons, will also be joining us. Last year, two women had dinner here, while for a couple years prior I sat around feeling sorry for myself.

See the progression? Learning to look after my needs is an arduous task. In doing so, others are also blessed. It is worth the anxiety (where will everyone sit?), the money (lots of food!), and stepping out of my comfort zone.

I encourage anyone without a technically-correct family to celebrate the family you have today. Friends, neighbors, shut-ins, people at the homeless shelter  – all can be members of your family if you reach out in courage.

And you will be their family too.

three smiling women beside man holding smartphone

Today’s Helpful Word

1 John 4:19

“We love because he first loved us.” 

 

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*photo of friends: rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

When You’ve Been Through the Ringer, Normal is More than a Setting on a Dryer. Here are 2 Very Normal Facts

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministriesperson looking searching clean

It is normal to struggle. 

It is normal to struggle. 

Say that to yourself, and then say it to others.  Not everyone knows this truth.  If you do understand that is normal to struggle, perhaps it is still difficult to live like it. Generally, denial, avoidance, and anxiety are how we face struggle as if it is to be controlled and eradicated.

Recognize Normalcy

I’ve spoken well of previous therapists who helped to move me from suicidal despair to a life of hope and joy. Unhealthy lifelong habits of survival were appropriately drawn to my attention in those sessions. I was encouraged to change.

Looking back, there is one thing more that would have made healing simpler and more complete. Had I been told how normal my struggles were, how they are so common they have names in the psychology books, I would have felt less of a wierdo, less of a second-class failure at life.    

Since that time, my research relating to advocacy has uncovered the following facts among others. Trauma produces predictable outcomes. Neglect causes reactions so typical they are listed. Some personality traits are directly traceable to living in emotional survival mode. It has been extremely beneficial to learn that much of what I did “wrong” was normal under the circumstances. 

Common, normal experiences 

What is normal? Stress will produce anxiety. Period. No one is exempt and no one is hopeless in dealing with it. The question is not, “Why am I so anxious?”;  it is “What is known to work for the myriad of people who overcome anxiety?” 

Depression is caused by many factors. Low self-esteem, unresolved anger, guilt, loss, biology… the list goes on. Our question does not have to be, “What is wrong with me?” Instead, it is appropriate to ask, “What works for the millions who recover every year?” 

Abuse in the past is a dictator-of-sorts, a fortune-teller at least, of predictable outcomes. Do you see yourself as worthless and unlovable? Guess what, that is both normal and untrue.  Your new question is, “What have others done to overcome horrible lies and victimization and to live to the fullest degree of joy?”  

That second normal thing

Struggle is normal. It does not make second-class survivors of any of us.  Despite our thinking habits and behaviors, God offers good gifts:

  • The help of others
  • Opportunity to rely on Him 
  • Chances to refocus on new purposes

Overcoming is normal too. It happens all the time. Stick to living, taking one day at a time. Allow yourself the privilege of humanness. You are doing fine. You will join the throng of people who make it through.  

woman with yellow backpack standing on hanging bridge with trees

Today’s Helpful Word

Hebrews 13: 5b-6

For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with  confidence, “The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*woman in dryer –  Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com ;  crossing the bridge- Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

It is Perpetually Paramount that this Pundit Practices Pointers She Presents to the Public. (Say that 10 times fast!)

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

25996069 Big generation family at home doing various activitiesDid you successfully say the title of this post ten times fast? As with an increasingly  speedy telling of the adventures of Mr. Piper and his spicy vegetables, rote repetition eventually turns into habits of sound.

Test this theory by asking if you know the depth of this title without pausing to consider. Can you informatively discuss Peter Piper’s situation? A message may be lost on the one who is used to hearing herself say it.

This week, it was my privilege to be a guest on WYCB 1340 AM’s  show, The Senior Zone, live for a Washington DC audience. I was asked by host Shawn Perry what it is seniors can do to prevent isolation.

Sure enough, my reply was quick and easy because I’ve said it all before.  While familiar words hopefully helped listeners, my mind was not applying them personally.

The perspective I shared with The Senior Zone

Quite simply, we are responsible for avoiding isolation. As long as we are able to interact, we must proactively look for ways to do it.

Perhaps stepping out the door and saying hello to the neighbor is all you can muster to start. Great! Try that! Then again and again until it is easier. Do something nice for them, and others in your neighborhood. If you raise herbs in your kitchen, share the harvest. Offer your green thumb to help the single mother down the street.

Local organizations offer activities for seniors and younger adults too. Many will pick you up. Go to church if they have a bus, or ask for a ride. Visit your 24-hour store at night and begin a conversation with a clerk. Chances are good they will welcome the company.

If you cannot leave home easily, invite people in. What do you know? Teach sewing,  wood carving, or start a book club or Bible study. Host regular movie nights or Sunday afternoon football. Whatever you can imagine is possible within the scope of your abilities.

Write letters. Send them to anyone you know who needs encouragement. Call other seniors who may be isolated. You are not alone in your struggle with isolation.

Life is difficult at times, and isolation only magnifies pain. Take hold of your future by entering the world of people.

The pointers are for me

Uggh! How many times will I “learn” this lesson? The advice is for me too. After months of limited interactions due to health issues, my connections at the church I’ve attended for a year are still formative. It feels intimidating to reach out to those who I do not know that well. Yet yesterday I invited some women over for spiritual fellowship.  I am responsible for getting my needs met, as are we all.

Say “I do not have to be alone” ten times fast. Let it sink in until the day you can honestly forget it because you are alone no more. I will too.

Looking AheadToday’s Helpful Word

Isaiah 61  (Isaiah is speaking for Jesus in this prophecy)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of  righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

Are We Serious, Folks? Insecure People Allow Opposing Beliefs to Determine Their Treatment of Others

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

Female Student Talking To High School CounselorC’mon! It is bad enough that unstable individuals carry out their hatred in acts of violence. It is terrible when people groups are systematically discriminated against due to lack of understanding or tolerance. All of this is painful to watch. 

What is difficult to comprehend is when supposedly normal, generally intelligent people decide they cannot be in the presence of those with opposing views. Of course we will not enjoy the company of everyone, and differing ideologies can cause friction. It makes sense one might not choose to spend the weekend with Uncle Harry who is obnoxiously pro-whatever one is against. 

It is a different situation when someone in one’s circle expresses a point of view, using respectful tones. Suddenly, Ed from accounting is no longer welcome to sit with the crowd in the lunchroom? Without explanation, members of a church group stop attending? I cannot figure out for the life of me how a point of view is so threatening!

Insecurity

Insecurity seems to swell in those relationships that dissolve because of disagreement over issues that cannot possibly be fixed over dinner or a game of golf. An insecure person cannot remain at the table when everyone does not share his or her opinion.

Here are three reasons we can and should stay in touch with people who do not think like we do. 

  1. No one knows everything perfectly. We are wrong and right often in the same moment. Do we deserve to be heard? If so, why not someone else?
  2. Truth can hold up to scrutiny. Is insecurity the result of a shaky premise? Is that why people shut down communication rather than pursue it?
  3. It is immature to walk away. Grown-ups stay in the room and talk. They work past vocal tones and disagreements and work out the relationship. Then, in a stroke of maturity, they agree to disagree and go on with their lives. 

Stay

As an imperfect and occasionally opinionated person, I fully appreciate when another adult (even an opinionated one) will stay for a whole conversation. Listening to other viewpoints does not mean we have to end up agreeing.  Asking and answering sincere questions is fun.

Picture two people who agree to discuss an issue. They start out reasonably. First person states their opinion, second person counters, first person counters with a new thought, second person walks out. Nothing accomplished, nothing learned. Only frustration remains because the second person never actually wanted anything short of an “you’re right, of course.”  

I know my opinions are not golden no matter how right they may be on occasion. No one else’s opinion is golden either. We share space on this planet. An opposing point of view is never enough reason to treat another person as dirt.  

WINCHILDrgbToday’s Helpful Word

James 3:17 

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

 

 

No One Cares How Much You Know

Compassionate Love:Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2014 Nancy Virden

We have all met Jack. He is generally uneducated, does not care to read, his television favorites are mindless, and yet he knows the answer to nearly every problem other people have.  He tends to be bold, thoughtless, crass, or even obnoxious. We do not enjoy his company.

Then there is Mack. He has earned several degrees from reputable schools. Mention a person’s problem to him, and he mentally shakes his head at all the ignorance in the world. His dismissive wave of the hand is only figurative because he trusts that outward decorum speaks well of his intelligence. We sometimes enjoy being seen in his company.

We are familiar too with Zack. He is quiet and seemingly empty of  conflict or points of view. He will not follow-up or show active concern when faced with problems of those about him. He seems nice enough, and we spend time with him because it would be rude to not.

Of these three, to whom would we be likely to turn in times of emotional distress? Why or why not?

Jack, Mack, and Zack will not change the world for the better. Being an influence for good means caring about a problem, asking good questions, and making personal sacrifice. 

When we are in emotional distress, the least helpful support is someone spouting know-it-all claims to fix the situation. Apathy and silence can be even more cutting. 

To be supportive of friends or family members who are struggling with their emotions, this is an old saying worth remembering:  No one cares how much you know until he or she knows how much you care.

 Today’s Helpful Word

Romans 12:9

Love must be sincere.”

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*pics from qualityphotos.com

 

Last Night’s Dream Had Me Looking for Hope Where It Already Exists

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

In my dream last night, I was walking on a broad boardwalk, surrounded by a busy crowd, everyone trying to go somewhere. Beside us was a hill topped with a white four floor apartment building.

I looked up. There were two friends peering out one of the floor-to-ceiling windows on the top floor.  They waved for me to come.  In another window on the same floor stood a mutual friend. He was staring out at the ocean and boardwalk view.  All four of us were meant  to meet at his place.

The dream whisked me to the right floor where I began looking for my friends.  Entering a small living space void of people, I spied suit coats hanging in the closet. A shirt looked like one I used to own. What is my stuff doing in here? I thought , touching the shirt,  tempted to take it back. Instead, looking about, wall decorations and well placed furniture made it clear that people did indeed live there.  I left.

A panicky feeling was rising. At first it only had been nervousness, but now I felt lost.  I tried to calm myself. Just keep looking. They are here somewhere. 

At the end of the hall where it was unlikely my friends could be, was a paneled wall instead of a window. It felt like the interior of a 1970s business office. The hall narrowed to a dead-end.  Turning back, I ventured into the last open door only briefly, recognizing no one was there.  This apartment had the enormous window and view, yet one small room. It did not seem to be a place people would gather.

The last of my dream is vague in memory.  The words “Romans 24,26” passed through my thoughts before I woke.

For some, dreams are messages. Others believe they help us process life’s issues.  If either of these are true in this case, it makes sense the dream was about searching. 

I’ve been searching for much lately.  Last night was my first at home following three days in the hospital (which is why this post is a day late). Doctors seem unable to find the exact cause and precise means of correcting a chronic issue. How to go forward with Always The Fight Ministries is heavy on my mind. I’ve applied for a great job and have made the second cut in the hiring process.  In September I backed off a favorite and useless anxiety coping mechanism, and am trying to ground myself in its replacement. 

Should I this, should I that? Which way is best, which way is disastrous? How can I avoid being wrong?  This is old stinkin’ thinkin’.  Worry, anxiety, catastrophizing… I thought it was all rooted out and overcome. Obviously not. 

This morning I did another search. Romans 24 -26 do not exist as chapters. Those particular verses in Romans 8 read, “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

Hope in this context refers to redemption of our bodies – freedom from mortality and  all suffering. We hope for what we do not yet have.  This is not the type of hope that crosses its fingers and tries to think positive thoughts.  This hope is certain, bound in the knowledge that the One True God has planned complete wholeness of body, mind, and spirit for those who believe on his Son Jesus. 

The “Spirit” in these verses is the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit that is God’s. When we are searching and do not know what to pray or decide, the Spirit prays for us.  Our suffering is never meaningless or wrapped in defeat. He will guide the steps of the righteous. 

I don’t know about you, but I needed this Bible study today. Whatever one may believe about dreams, mine led me to this promise: my hope is on solid ground, and I am not alone in the fight.  

 Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 91:1,2
 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High

    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,  my God, in whom I trust.”

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

-room pic by ZELA on rgbstock.com; girl pic by JAZZA on rgbstock.com

 

 

 

A Visit to Rehab: The Greatest of These is Love

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

This past Sunday, I drove to Chicago.  The director of alumni events at a rehabilitation center had invited me to speak with residents on Monday. 

Morning came early. While much of the U.S.A. was arising and heading to work or school, these women  continued the fight  to gain recovery from addiction, eating disorders, mental health challenges, or all three. Excited and a little nervous, I left the hotel to join them.

Women in the rehab program advance in liberties as they progress. This time, my audience consisted of women in the process of learning to make healthier choices without constant supervision.  They are well on their way to going home, clean and sober. In fact, a few of them  graduated that day!

Most people in recovery have been told numerous times they are worthless, many since childhood. As part of my story,  I shared the reality of God’s love and message. I added, “I am a Christian, born-again, a follower of Jesus. But those are only words. Hopefully, my life reflects who he is.” Everyone nodded. 

America today hears much rhetoric about Christians, evangelicals in particular, and the mix of religion with politics as if faith in Jesus and a certain political party are one and the same.  It is difficult for those who do not know, to grasp who Jesus actually is. 

In some ways, the standard for Christians is raised. Show me you mean it. Show me you do not hate or despise me. Match your choices to your words. Prove your faith by your love. In extending love and compassion, and sincere non-critical acceptance to people in all stages of their journey, we represent God as the Bible reveals him.*

Mental health treatment in this country is greatly lacking. It is not available everywhere,  and is expensive for most.  Parity in the insurance realm is inconsistent. There are few standards by which to measure how long a patient should stay in a hospital.

In my opinion, stigma and lack of knowledge are the primary reasons we do not take care of mentally ill and emotionally unstable people. There is judgment – “I do not believe in mental health disability, I just don’t.”  “Depression is not an illness,  with enough faith (or strength) anyone can snap out of it.” “You are adopting the principles of the world if you give psychology any merit.” 

All these have been said to me, about me, plus many more accusations of failure. If I could describe  the beauty of joy and hope in the faces of the women I met on Monday,  perhaps more could see the value of mental (some call it behavioral) healthcare.  Maybe  God could get some credit for knowing what he is doing in each person’s life! 

Meanwhile, it is tremendous joy being vulnerable and open with people in the middle of the struggle. They, as do we all, respond to love.

Today’s Helpful Word

Mark 10:46-52

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

-woman pic by LUSI on rgbstock.com; Jesus pic from freebibleimages.org

*This does not imply avoidance of the topic of sin. As seen in my work s a whole, my emphasis is how we approach people. Are we interested in gaining insight into another person’s struggle? Jesus showed sincere non-critical acceptance to hurting people, and in the context of meeting their needs, taught them to know him.